More on the WRs

Posted: April 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 59 Comments »

Some of you guys had follow-up questions and/or comments I made about Jeremy Maclin and the WRs a few days back.

I was a big fan of his during his time at Missouri.  Mac blew me away with how good he was.  Look at his college numbers.  Mac scored 33 TDs in only 2 seasons.  That is mind-blowing for a WR.  He ran for 6.  He caught 22 TD passes.  He had 5 return scores.  The man was a big play machine.  Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to score.

Mac won’t turn 25 until May, but already has 258 catches and 26 TDs.  He has been a good WR so far in his career.

Jeremy Maclin is a guy that I’ve never heard a bad word about in terms of him the person.  If I had to pick an Eagles player to be a neighbor, Mac is probably one of the guys I’d have at the top of the list.  From everything I’ve heard, he’s truly a good guy.

This sounds like a player everyone should love, but that’s not the case.   Some people think I’m too hard on him, but Jeremy is a highly frustrating player. While he is a good WR, he’s not lived up to his potential with any consistency.  This isn’t a question of talent.  It is a question of…heck, I’m not sure what the word is.

I think my biggest complaint is that Mac doesn’t show a sense of urgency.  The nickname “Self-tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin” comes from Jimmy Bama.  Jimmy has put up some posts (here and here) showing Mac’s desire to avoid contact.  No one expects him to be a player that knocks over defenders left and right as he powers his way into the endzone.  That said, Mac is too quick to go down.

DeSean Jackson played it safe in 2011 because of his contract concerns and it affected his play.  Mac also plays it safe, but can’t use the contract excuse.  DJax was a 2nd round pick.  Mac was a Top 20 pick.  After 4 seasons, Mac had earned almost 3 times as much money as DJax in his first 4 years.

You can accuse me of being too hard on Mac since he’s out there on the field and I’m just blogger boy.  That’s a fair point, but…I know for a fact that there are players who are frustrated with Mac’s soft play, especially when it comes to blocking.  This is where understanding character vs football character comes into play.

I would prefer Mac as my neighbor over Michael Irvin, but which guy would I want on the field late in a tight game?  Irvin, and it isn’t even up for debate.  Irvin was a jackass and drug user and a lot of bad things, but on Sundays he played hard and with an ultra-competitive spirit.  Mac’s talent is legit, but his soft style of play is also very real.  This will either change under Chip Kelly or he’s gone.  Simple as that.

The Eagles are $25M under the cap, but haven’t shown any interest in extending Mac.  You can bet they are trying to figure out if the light will go on this year.  Andy Reid didn’t push Mac very hard and that allowed him to play the way he did.  Kelly will change that.  He will push Mac.  Blocking is now required from receivers.  Don’t do it and you’ll sit.

I sincerely hope that Mac embraces the new culture and starts to play more aggressively.  When he’s at his best, Mac shows big time ability.  He runs good routes.  He can make tough catches.  He has good speed.  I think his biggest enemy is himself.  To steal a line from Bill Parcells, Mac is willing to let good enough be good enough.  That won’t fly under Kelly.

I hope this clears up my thoughts on Kelly and gives you a better feel for the situation.

* * * * *

As for the overall group of WRs, there is a perception that the group is still small.  That’s really not the case anymore.  DeSean Jackson and Damaris Johnson are the only two undersized guys.

Riley Cooper is big.  So is Arrelious Benn.  So are fringe guys B.J. Cunningham and Marvin McNutt.  Ifeanyi Momah his huge, but a fringe guy.  Maclin and Jason Avant have average size.

Right now DJax and Mac are the starters and neither is a big guy so I get that angle, but the group has more size than ever.  It sure seems like Kelly wants more size at WR and I’m assuming he’ll use the big guys.  Time will tell on that angle.

Interesting note on Momah, Adam Caplan mentioned the Eagles gave him $85,000 to sign.  That’s nothing huge, but it does show a level of interest beyond just adding a camp body.  Momah is still a project to be sure, but he’s huge, runs well, and has some potential.  Real interesting addition.

* * * * *

Beyond Mac’s adjustment to Kelly, I’m nervous about Jason Avant.  Jason has been a good Eagle since he was drafted in 2006, but he’s not fast, he’s not a huge guy, he doesn’t have RAC ability.  There’s just nothing compelling about him, besides having good hands and being a very polished receiver.  Is that good enough in the Kelly offense?

Avant is a leader.  He is tough.  He will block.  He’s the guy you want to keep around, but there are no guarantees that he’ll be a part of the plans.  Depending on how things go in the draft, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles tried to shop him.  He wouldn’t get much in return, if anything.  Veteran players are having a rough offseason.  Just ask guys like Eric Winston and Charles Woodson.

_


  • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

    An $85k guarantee to Momah closely approximates a practice squad salary. That’s no coincidence. Any practice squad salary he earns likely offsets that guarantee. So what the Eagles have basically done is is guarantee him a place on the practice squad.

    • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

      Your name seems familiar. Are you new to this site?

      • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

        Touche.

        • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

          Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • http://twitter.com/Eagles301 Mike Perrie

    One play that stands out I forget who it was vs but McCoy had the ball and if Mac had blocked his guy it would have been huge. I remember McCoy getting up and letting Maclin know he was frustrated.

    It seems Maclin played physical during the 2010 year before his offseason “health scare”

    • D-von

      That’s what I’ve been wondering. If Maclin had Mono I can understand his play in 2011 but he still was playing the same way in 2012. Also is it me or did Maclin play better with Foles as the QB rather than Vick?

    • http://twitter.com/KeeepSwinging Anthony Hart

      Shady actually tweet Maclin a few weeks ago busting his chops about not blocking for him. It wasn’t mean-spirited or too serious, he was just busting his chops, still pretty funny.

  • Iskar36

    Maclin is definitely a frustrating player. He has a ton of potential to be an excellent WR, but for whatever reason, he hasn’t put it all together. In terms of his physicality, there is absolutely no question that he plays soft, but is it something that has actually gotten worse over his career so far? I remember his rookie season thinking that while he didn’t take big hits well, he did factor in positively when it came to blocking and played at least slightly more physical than he has in the last two seasons. Am I remembering this wrong, or has he become a softer player over time?

    • Neil

      When you mention it like this, I feel like I agree with the general sentiment. I don’t remember Maclin in his first two seasons frustrating me as much as he has recently. That might just be circumstances though like him getting more opportunities to disappoint as he gains experience.

      • Iskar36

        That’s certainly possible, but I seem to remember specific moments in his rookie season that I was particularly impressed with Maclin making blocks down field, something he seems to show complete disinterest in doing now.

      • theycallmerob

        It also seemed that expectations for him rose drastically after Vick’s 2010 season; the health scare was that much more terrifying at the time in 2011, and the (mostly national) media allowed the mulligan. Just using fantasy football as one example- many of my casual football-fan friends became familiar with Maclin through media hype. Many more eyes were on him last year, and saw firsthand how he contributed to the “soft” culture on last year’s team.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

      Not to mention his Punt Returning. Although he was a little better this year if I recall (didn’t he have one decent return?)

  • theycallmerob

    Nice article, Tommy. I agree with you sentiments on Avant; love the guy, his hands and the intangibles, but I think his spot will be lost if Benn performs to his ability. Cooper may be challenged by Momah, and Johnson will have to prove a more diverse skillset to beat out some of the other camp bodies.
    I highly doubt the Eagles drafting a WR with so many other need positions; although, the idea of a late round sleeper familiar to one of our new coaches is so tempting…

  • EaglesHero87

    Hey Tommy, do you think the last two disappointing seasons may have led Maclin to play “soft”? When the team’s playing poorly, you’d think the psychological effects would include players to not play up to their potential to minimize the risk of injuries, as one example would suggest.

    As for last season, after DeSean was placed on the IR, it became apparent that Maclin was going to the the #1 WR. During this time when Maclin got more opportunities, did this coincide with his “soft” playmaking ability? I do seem to vaguely remember his frequent holding calls whenever McCoy had breakout runs, and that was so gosh darn frustrating to see!

    At this point, it’s fairly easy to say that both DeSean and Maclin are starters. Assuming Benn, Momah, and other bigger WRs play extremely well in TC and the preseason games, do you think Chip will rotate DeSean with the bigger WRs (e.g. Benn and Momah while keeping Maclin on the field? When you factor in the questionable Foles who at this point clearly isn’t our franchise QB and with our running game having to become a focal part of our offense, Chip’s definitely got to have WRs block, period.
    I like Maclin and I really, really do hope he’ll embrace the new culture and look forward to an aggressive blocking style.

  • A_T_G

    If I had to pick an Eagle to be my neighbor, it would be Jon Dorenbos. First he could beer me over the fence. Second, free magic shows for the kids. Third, his family would improve any neighborhood’s scenery.

    On the other hand, if Maclin was playing around with the football with my kids in the back yard, I could be sure they wouldn’t get hurt.

    • DaO_Z

      im calling BULL***T on this! You know it’s just to catch a glimpse of Mrs. D in the pool….

      • A_T_G

        It was a hot tub in my mind, late at night.

        • ACViking

          deleted. wrong spot

        • DaO_Z

          ha! i was trying to be as pg as possible…but yes, the hot tub is all i could think of too…

    • jshort

      Anytime Dorenbos is mentioned, the link should be mandatory.

      • A_T_G

        I’m so embarrassed. I stress that very rule of Internet etiquette to Tommy. I feel like I just drank from the wrong water glass without putting my pinky out.

        http://www.athleteswives.com/tag/jon-dorenbos-wife/

        • jshort

          Perfect ! Thank you.

        • Ark87

          Jesus whoever gave her an 8.5 has tough standards. I want to live where they do!

    • laeagle

      When I read that, I got “neighborhood sorcery” the first time through. Never thought I’d see those two words together. But appropriate, given that you’re talking about Dorenbos.

  • SleepingDuck

    If the Eagles trade back to 12 (Dolphins’ pick), could Tavon Austin be of interest there?

    • http://twitter.com/ezgreene ezgreene

      No.

    • DaO_Z

      yeah, Tommy has said it before….

    • http://twitter.com/alex_karklins Alex Karklins

      I can’t see them taking him with DeSean and Damaris already on the roster. Is he that much of an upgrade over those two players?

      • Neil

        He’s like both of those players combined. Desean’s speed and Damaris’ quickness. Probably quicker actually.

    • TommyLawlor

      Tavon could absolutely be of interest. I think all offensive coaches would be intrigued by him.

      • austinfan

        He’s intriguing, but you have to think about value.

        The guys who come to mind are Sproles, McCluster and Harvin.
        While Austin is faster than McCluster, doubt he’s quicker, but the small size means he’s easily arm tackled in the NFL, and the windows become smaller (we’ve see this with DeSean underneath).

        Sproles is short, but much stronger than Austin.
        Harvin is 3″ and 15 lbs heavier.
        Austin doesn’t have the frame to bulk up (again, DeSean).

        So I see Austin as a valuable tinker toy whose touches have to be limited (see Harvin’s history, the migraines are unusual, but the dings are not, Seattle overpaid for a guy who’s only put up one year with over 1000 yards total offense). I have him pegged as an early 2nd round value, similar to DeSean, better underneath but not nearly as dangerous as a deep threat. If you throw to Austin 140+ times a year (what you’d expect from a 1st rd WR), will he last more than a couple seasons (NFL LBs and safeties would never try to knock a guy like Austin out of a game).

  • Ark87

    My thoughts on Mac (the player, not my amazing fellow commentor): He goes down ridiculously easy and it has gotten worse as time has gone on. Mac has been the Victim of at least a few come from behind strip tackles while attempting to make a move on a defender to get extra yardage, at least in one case costing the game. I’m wondering if he was coached or maybe decided on his own to just play it safe and go down. Maclin is ALWAYS dinged up, it wouldn’t surprise me if Andy also encouraged him to take care of himself out there to keep healthy. He might already be ruined. What I do know is that Maclin is no Nnamdi Asomougha on the field. In TC when you hear about a WR and CB fighting, you could bank on it involving Maclin or Cooper. Someone ruffled Carrie Williams feathers in the Ravens game, guess who it was. There is something there that the coaches can work with, I just hope he isn’t ruined.

    On Avant: I think he stays, but not as our slot receiver. He may need to take a pay cut, but he is a great guy to have in the locker room and has special teams value. Chip indicates that is worth something to him.

    • Geagle

      I think avant will be traded to pats or broncos…just a gut feeling..

      Would love to hear more Bout teammates being frustrated with Maclin

      • Ark87

        Shady is by far the most notable. There was a highlight of Shady being one block away from taking a run to the house. Mac made a terrible effort, the block wasn’t made, Shady got up and let him know. He was mega pissed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/michael.w.cho Michael Winter Cho

          “Upright blocking is the only kind Receivers do (frustrating, what an edge they would have with even the most basic mechanics).”
          Could you elaborate on this?

          • Ark87

            They don’t get low for leverage. If you can get lower than the other guy, and get your hands under his shoulder pads, push up, once he is stood up, you can drive him anywhere. But no….They both stand straight up and just sorta put the hands on the chest or shoulder pads. They engage but they don’t know how to drive.

  • ACViking

    Re: J-Maclin . . . 2009 draft analysis

    Below is the scouting report on Maclin by WalterFootball.com’s Matt McGuire.

    Here’s a few tidbits:

    * Blocking leaves much to be desired

    * Does not give 100 percent when going over the middle

    * One of the more overrated players in this draft class.
    ____________________

    Strengths: Great build with solid height and decent bulk … Highly productive in the Mizzou spread … Outstanding speed and is a game-breaker … Explosive threat after the catch … Elusive in the open field and has elite agility … Excellent return man with punts andkicks … Above average body control on jump balls … Versatile on WR screens and reverses … Extremely high upside.

    Weaknesses: Very raw receiver … Immature route runner and does not understand how to sell a corner … Does not show an awareness to set up defensive backs … Cannot identify various coverages at this point in this career … Lacks focus when catching the football … Occasionally fights the football … Does not give 100 percent when going over the middle … Blocking leaves much to be desired … Will take multiple years to develop … Played in an offense that does not translate well to the NFL … Boom or bust.

    Summary: Ever since I put on the Missouri tape in mid-December, I am just not sold on Jeremy Maclin being an instant impact threat in the NFL. For this, I downgrade him to a fringe first-rounder on my personal draft board and I think he is a high-risk prospect. I am a true believer that route running translates to immediate NFL production, and he simply does not have it. One of the more overrated players in this draft class.

    Player Comparison: Ted Ginn, Jr. Maclin is slightly more polished than Ginn, but he is a beloved prospect because of what he can do with the ball in his hands. Like Ginn, it will take Maclin 2-plus years to develop into a capable NFL starter.

    • Anders

      Funny he said Maclin would be boom or bust, when he so far has been right in the middle between those two.

      • D3FB

        walterfootball ladies and gentlemen

        • Anders

          yea, I think that breakdown was over harsh on Maclin, but he was right on the toughness part, but from what I can tell he was very wrong on the whole route running thing and ability to get open, as he has been able to run the full route tree and has an very easy time getting open with his quick twitch ability to change direction.

          • D3FB

            Ya I mean I’m not terribly familiar with their prospect breakdowns but their mocks tend to be in the neighborhood of bleacher reports levels of creating controversy to stir up page views.

  • DaO_Z

    Couldn’t they try to trade Avant to the man that knows his value best? Try to get a 2014 5th rounder….

  • Iskar36

    OT question:

    With the rumors out there that we are attempting to sign Akeem Jordan who would largely be coming here for STs, it made me start to think, is there a point where bringing in additional ST players actually hurts the team? I guess phrased that way, the answer is fairly obvious. If you have a roster of 53 STs players, you’re not going to be a very good football team. Obviously we are not anywhere near that point, but I guess I’m curious how many Colt Anderson-type players, or players who are excellent STers but don’t really fit as a quality backup (Jordan may fit in that category in the 4-3 under) can you afford to have?

    Don’t read into this question as if I am questioning the moves by any means. I think in the context of where our team is right now, making STs a priority is a very smart plan. First off, it was obviously a weakness on the team last year. Second off, I think most of us agree that we are not going to be a great team and building the defense will take time, but STs players are usually cheap and relatively easy to find. Third, by significantly improving one unit of our team (while obviously not neglecting the offense and defense), we have a chance to maybe steal a few games we otherwise would have lost because of our STs. My question is more intended for people who like to anticipate the 53 man roster. How many STs specialists can one team afford to carry without sacrificing too much depth on the team.

    • A_T_G

      I see what you are saying, but I also think it is good for the culture change that is needed. Akeem is a guy that always had to fight for a spot, was never a long-term starter, but was always ready to be the next man up and get the most from his ability. If the other guys fit the same mood, bring them on.
      Some earn a spot, some don’t, but if Kelly wants competition instead of entitlement, Akeem and others are great role models. If too many of them earn roster spots so that the other units suffer, how good we’re the other units going to be filled with guys that couldn’t beat out guys like Akeem?

      • Iskar36

        Completely agree with the idea that it is a good move in terms of trying to change the culture. Still, the point remains that for guys like Akeem Jordan or Colt Anderson, while they fight for a roster spot and provide competition in that sense, they don’t really provide competition at their respective positions. You have to use roster spots to keep STs players which in a sense means you lose roster spots for a better backup at a defensive or offensive position. My point is, it’s definitely good to have some of those types of guys, but what is the cut off at which adding more STs aces who will provide minimal benefit at their specific position hurts your depth?

  • Toby_yboT

    With respect to Maclin’s blocking, my memory keeps telling me that Maclin didn’t always struggle with blocking. I actually recall his blocking being a strength of his early in his career, something that he was praised for on numerous occasions. I’ve been meaning to go back and watch some old games, read some game notes and articles, but haven’t gotten around to that. Is my perception way out of wack here or is the trouble with blocking more of a recent problem? Anyone?

    • EaglesHero87

      That’s exactly what I thought shortly after Maclin was drafted. I wonder if his recent blocking issues are a result of poor blocking techniques or simply lack of effort. I’ve seen games where he does put in the effort to block the defenders, but the angle is so poor that he gets called for the offensive holding penalties.

  • Wilbert M.

    Tommy – you nailed it with the frustration level. Maclin has talent. I’ve seen him block decently. He’s fast – not blazing, but has good hands. What the heck is the problem? He should add value as a returner (kicked ass in college) but has sucked as a pro. The big problem is you want a big guy across from D-Jax and Maclin isn’t it. He’d be a great compliment across from an Andre or Calvin Johnson. Avant was an Andy guy – he’s a dime a dozen, but from a cap perspective, he’s affordable this year. I think Riley Cooper will have a very hard time making the team this year. There is no explosiveness to his game and he plays small. He’ll be gone.

    • EaglesHero87

      Cooper brings explosiveness in the blocking aspect, though. But I agree with you in that his other areas may make it hard for him to make the team.

  • the midatlantic

    Momah would be an interesting TE experiment.

    • EaglesHero87

      TE? Perhaps if you could elaborate on the notion of Momah playing in the role as a TE, I might divulge on your perspective. :)

    • Neil

      To line up Momah in the slot could be very intriguing, but I don’t know anything about his blocking.
      He would probably need another 10-20 pounds to do it well,
      and at that weight he might stop running like a wide receiver. The fact
      that at 6-7, 240 he moves like a wide receiver to me means he would be a
      more interesting WR experiment. The eagles site shows footage of him running routes at a proday during the interview with Spuds.

  • TrentColeHamels

    Can we please lay off of my man Michael Irvin? I hated him when he was a Cowboy but I spent a few months working with him and he is actually a great guy (once you get to know him).

    Is it too early to declare Momah the early favorite to win the Na Brown award this year?

  • disqus_Y2FwcDzitq

    Yo Tommy L…. belated commiserations Eagles brother for ya dad…

    Hang Tough…

    Beanstalk from Oz

  • troy412

    Tommy do u think dixon could thrive as the five tech end in the 3 4

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  • austinfan

    Momah will compete with Carrier at H-back, they’re both college WRs who’ve outgrown the position but have the perfect size for H-back. And are exceptional athletes at that position with the benefit of running WR routes. The question will come down to their blocking skills – but if either can play that spot that gives Chip even more flexibility, because with their speed, if you split them wide, a CB has to go out there with them or it’s a gross mismatch against all LBs and most safeties.

  • brza

    Wow, I forgot how good Maclin’s numbers were in college. I can’t believe Self-Tacklin Jeremy Maclin actually gained 694 RUSHING yards back then. Was the blocking THAT good or did he actually try to run through contact in his college days?